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May Day air travel back in business

Tourists flock to the Louvre Museum in Paris on May 3. FENG YONGBIN/CHINA DAILY

Travel abroad was popular for Chinese tourists during the recent May Day holiday, and they traveled further to some niche destinations like Saudi Arabia, in addition to traditional hot spots like Southeast Asia, industry players said.

During the five-day holiday that lasted from May 1 to Sunday, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore were among the top 10 overseas destinations for Chinese travelers, as the latter three Southeast Asian countries all adopted visa-free entries for Chinese visitors, said Qunar, a Beijing-based online travel agency.

The total booking volumes of international flights and overseas hotels for the May Day holiday both hit new highs on the platform, Qunar said.

Saudi Arabia, Spain, Hungary, France, Austria and Italy saw significant growth in the number of travel product bookings on a yearly basis. In addition, some Chinese tourists booked trips to Murmansk, Russia; Athens and Santorini in Greece; as well as some smaller cities in Spain and Portugal, the agency said.

“For traditional popular overseas destinations such as Japan, France, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, Chinese travelers are no longer satisfied with simple sightseeing, and increasingly have been exploring small towns in-depth,” said Xiao Peng, a researcher with Qunar’s big data research institute.

Chinese visitors arrived at Burgundy, France — a renowned wine cultivation region — or Otaru, Japan, the movie-shooting backdrop for the Japanese hit film Love Letter. They also visited Zermatt, Switzerland, where travelers can go skiing all year round, and even Recife, Brazil, hometown of former soccer star Rivaldo, Xiao said.

Outbound tours organized in small groups and with flexible schedules were popular among Chinese travelers, and they preferred self-guided tours for short-haul trips and group tours for long-haul trips, said Tuniu, an online travel agency.

For instance, travelers mainly booked packages that included both flight tickets and hotels, and took self-guided tours in places such as the Maldives, Bali Island of Indonesia, Singapore and Japan, Tuniu found.

During the May Day holiday, cruises were also sought after by Chinese consumers. Many voyages that departed from Shanghai to Fukuoka, Japan, as well as from Shanghai to Okinawa, Japan, were nearly sold out, Tuniu said.